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October 20, 2016

The Galaxy Note 7

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

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I’ve been refraining from writing about the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco. I’m certain it’s something you know about as the stories are all over the media. As the author of a few books on the Galaxy Note line of phones, I thought I’d weigh in on the subject, especially since the topic has turned into a milestone in cell phone history.

The Galaxy Note represented the first of the phablets, the larger-format phones that represented a cross between a smartphone and a tablet. I believe it ushered in an era of larger cell phones in general.

In Figure 1 you see an early Apple iPhone, my current Galaxy S6, and the original Nexus 1 phone. Both the iPhone and Nexus date from about 5 or 6 years ago, at the dawn of the smartphone craze. The S6 is more current, and it reflects the generally-accepted larger size of today’s smartphones.

Figure 1. A iPhone 3, Samsung Galaxy S6, and original Nexus One phone for size comparison.

Figure 1. An iPhone 3, Samsung Galaxy S6, and original Nexus One phone for size comparison.

You can imagine the effect that the original Galaxy Note had on the market in 2012 when it first came out. Compared to the diminutive smartphones of the day, the sucker was huge. Plus, it has the S-Pen, which let you precisely manipulate the touchscreen. The device was tremendously popular.

I used the Note in 2012 as my personal phone. The size surprised people when I took it out, but the size was also the reason I no longer use the Note: The thing was just too hulking huge for a pocket and few accessories were available for the device. I couldn’t get a belt clip for it or a suitable car mount. Even so, I eventually updated to the Note 3 and my son currently uses the Note 4.

The Note 5 was the next generation of phone released; the devices remained very popular.

Then Samsung did something unoriginal and stupid: They leapfrogged the version number and rushed the unit into production.

Leapfrogging version numbers is nothing new in the high tech industry. Back in the early 1990s, Microsoft went from Word version 2.0 to Word version 6.0 to compete with WordPerfect 6.0. At the time, WordPerfect was the dominant word processor and Microsoft didn’t want Word to look out-of-date. (And version numbers don’t really mean anything any more.)

Samsung wanted the Galaxy Note 7.0 to be current with the iPhone 7.0. My feeling is that no one would care, but apparently someone up the totem pole at Samsung thought it was a good idea. The version number, however, wasn’t Samsung’s big issue.

No, the big issue was rushing the unit into production to match or beat the iPhone 7’s introduction. That’s where Samsung’s plans blew up, literally. My guess is that the exploding phones are caused by software problems, not hardware; battery technology is pretty solid and when even the replacement units are catching fire, that shows me that the issue is in the battery management software, not the hardware.

Despite this issue, and losing an estimated $3 billion, Samsung will survive. Alas, I don’t think the Galaxy Note brand will survive, which is sad because it’s a popular and historic phone.

2 Comments

  1. I did see a mod for one the GTA series where the grenade(?) skin was replaced with a Galaxy, your guess about the cause seems (to me) the most logical as third parties have started offering updates to make your make your phone charge faster…

    Comment by glennp — October 23, 2016 @ 2:28 am

  2. My son showed me a video of the Galaxy Note 7 GTA V mod. It’s hilarious.

    Comment by admin — October 24, 2016 @ 8:44 am

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